They may be small but there’s no doubt that the Junior Crew Supporters will play a big role in the upcoming Clipper 2017-18 Race.

“This is the first year we are introducing Junior Crew Supporters a group designed specifically for children supporting a member of race crew,” says Race Crew Supporters Coordinator Ruth Charles.

“As an adult, you've made that decision to take on this challenge and go away but it's hard when you're young to understand why someone might be away for so long.

“The next generation will have activities and ways to get involved so it just takes away that feeling that you might be missing someone because you are fully involved in taking part in your own adventure.”

Ruth has experienced first-hand how important young supporters are. Before taking up her current role with the Clipper Race, she completed the whole 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation as a crew member on board Derry~LondonDerry~Doire. Cheering her on from home were her godchildren Emma and Tom, who were seven and four when Ruth left to race across the world’s oceans.

Emma and Tom welcoming Ruth Charles home after her circumnavigation in the Clipper 2015-16 Race.

“It's great that children like me can be a Junior Crew Supporter,” says Emma.

“I remember that we sent her lots of postcards and I was really sad when she left.

I wish there had been lots of activities because I missed her loads but this year I will be able to do the activities because my other aunty is going on it.”

Ruth's welcome home at St Katharine Docks, London, after the Clipper 2015-16 Race.

Anyone under the age of 16 and who is actively supporting a member of Clipper Race crew will be able to sign up to be a Junior Crew Supporter, and then take part in the activities across the eight legs of the race.

Ruth says: “A Junior Crew Supporter could be someone’s son or daughter, their nephew, their niece, or in my instance, their godchildren. It could even just be family friends.

“Activities will be aimed at those aged five to twelve however, anyone under 16 can take part.

“There's going to be everything from making their own boats, to learning about what sailing is, and how the wind works, as well as challenges around some of the countries that we are going to.

Emma and Tom before Ruth began the Clipper 2015-16 Race.

Ultimately, it will be a way for children to learn and feel like they are important part of the race. And if we can inspire just a few people to get involved in sailing and when they're older take part in the Clipper Race that would be great.”

If you want to sign up to be a Junior Crew Supporter, you can do so by visiting the website here. If you have any further questions, you can contact Ruth via email.

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